Photographer Spencer Tunick Hits Back After ‘Prudish’ Supermarket Blocks His Mass Nudity Artwork

In further art world madness: French performance artist shuts himself inside Paleolithic lion-man; Argentian artist duo enrage Catholics with bloody Jesus cake

Spencer Tunick, Sydney 1 (Opera House), 2010-2012. Courtesy: the artist

Spencer Tunick, Sydney 1 (Opera House), 2010-2012. Courtesy: the artist

Spencer Tunick, Sydney 1 (Opera House), 2010–12. Courtesy: the artist

Alas, photographer Spencer Tunick’s plan to stage a mass-nudity artwork on the roof of a Woolworths store has been thwarted, after the Australian supermarket giant refused him permission to shoot it. In a piece titled Return of the Nude, Tunick proposed to invite 350 to 500 people to pose naked on a rooftop carpark of a Woolworths outlet in Melbourne. But the supermarket chain wasn’t having any of it – they claim that it would interfere with customer access to the store. Local business group Chapel Street Precinct Association has called the supermarket’s decision ‘prudish’. Tunick said that although ‘this kind of stuff happens in Indonesia or Italy’, he was shocked to have been denied permission in Australia. His 2010 piece Mardi Gras: The Base featured thousands of people stripping off and posing naked outside the Sydney Opera House.

There’s a certain inevitability to French performance artist Abraham Poincheval’s latest outing. In 2014 he lived inside a bear carcass for 2 weeks for his performance Inside the Skin of the Bear at Paris’s Hunting and Wildlife Museum. Last year he spent a week living inside a 12-tonne boulder at Paris’s Palais de Tokyo – a challenging experience which involved him having to keep his excrement around him. Now he’s back with a performance piece in which he has locked himself inside a statue in the shape of a paleolithic carving of a lionman, at France’s Aurignac museum. Poincheval plans to spend a week in there – best of luck to him.

Argentinian artists Pool Paolini and Marianela Perelli (known as the duo Pool y Marianela) have roused Catholic anger in their home country after they served up a life-size ‘Jesus cake’ – complete with stigmata wounds – at the opening of their exhibition ‘Kidstianism’. A video of the Minister of Culture for Buenos Aires Enrique Avogadro munching on a slice of the red velvet ‘Jesus cake’ (the arm, in fact) at the FACA art fair went viral and has led to calls for him to resign. His response? The minister apologized, but insisted: ‘the place of art is precisely to make us uncomfortable.’

In the Name of Art is our semi-regular compendium of (almost) unbelievable art world stories. Send your worst to

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